Why hike Trolltunga?
For the ‘gram! No, I kid, there are much easier ways to get cool photos for your social media than hiking over 20km up river and down dale. Trolltunga is a beautiful hike that takes you through completely different landscapes, from shallow lakes, to mossy rocks, panoramic views over the fjord below, cloud clinging around the rocks – it really was some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve seen and it’s all the better that you get the chance to drink it all in rather than watching it whip by your car window. And regardless of who ultimately sees your photos, the views from the last hour or so of the hike as you start to skirt the edge of the valley, and from the ‘tongue’ itself are absolutely breath-taking and it was worth every step.
When should you visit Trolltunga
You can hike without a guide between 15 June and 15 September each year when the trail is typically snow free, there’s plenty of daylight and weather conditions are decent.
Outside of these times, you can hike Trolltunga with a guide between 4 March and 15 October (according to Visit Norway). Outside of these dates Trolltunga is not passable so this is only something to put on your itinerary if you’re doing a summer trip to Norway (for me, it was a big factor in deciding when to visit).
There are lots of options for using a guide, here are a few of the places I found when researching my own hike, although we ultimately went without a guide as we completed the trip during the summer period. Using a guide does give you some additional options over and above what you can do alone; Trolltunga Active offers sunrise and sunset trips, overnight trips and also some routes on a via ferrata. They offer a winter hike which is available between mid Feb and the end of June.
Where to stay near Trolltunga?
There are a few accommodation options nearby but not tonnes of choices and they vary in distance from the trail head. If you want to give yourself the best chance to complete the hike it pays to start early and that’s more likely to happen the closer you are to cut down your morning journey.
We stayed at the Trolltunga Guesthouse which was clean, quiet and close to Trolltunga. The rooms have a small kitchen which is great for preparing an early breakfast before you hike and for making some sandwiches for the journey. The guesthouse also offers a shuttle to P3 (I’ll explain all the Ps later on!) for an extra charge which made it super easy to get to Trolltunga in the morning.
I found it was a bit pricey for what we got at £266 for both of us for 2 nights (which put it on a par with 2 nights in Oslo), but there are limited options in the area and Trolltunga Guesthouse has by far the best reviews and is not out of line for the area so we had to just swallow the cost!
You really need at least 2 nights there as you’ll need to have arrived the night before to make the early start and you won’t be fit for going anywhere once you’re done. If you have more time to spend or can build some flexibility into your itinerary then do it, the weather can be unpredictable (2 days after we hiked even guided hikes were called off due to the rain and after that the snow fell) and if you want to do the hike you may need to wait it out. Do not proceed in unsafe weather conditions!
What to wear and what to pack for hiking Trolltunga
We saw loads of people on the trail who did not look prepared, we saw plenty of people in jeans, in canvas trainers, with their stuff in a carrier bag rather than a backpack (I’m not even kidding about the carrier bag). I’m sure they all reached the top and got back unscathed…but if the weather had turned they probably would have ended up being rescued.
We started our hike in semi darkness and in a light rain (which persisted the whole way up) and it was about 10 degrees, so I set out wearing:
- Sports bra
- Sports vest top
- Long sleeved thin thermal base layer
- Zip up fleece (I took this off after less than an hour and it never went back on but I did get chilly at the top)
- Waterproof jacket (unlined)
- Nike dri-fit leggings
- Waterproof trousers
- Furry headband (soon ditched!)
- Gloves (but didn’t really need them)
- Liner sock
- Wool hiking socks
- Salomon hiking boots
I took a 26L Osprey Sirrus daypack containing the following:
- Thermal leggings
- Spare leggings and spare cotton top
- Spare liner socks and spare hiking socks
- Head torch and regular torch
- Food: 2 ham and cheese sandwiches, 4 protein bars (just in case – only ate 1), packet of Oreos (to celebrate at the top!)
- 1.5L bottle of water (although you can fill water from the streams on the trail) and a bottle of isotonic Powerade
- She-wee (was actually easier to do without so I didn’t use it)
- Zip lock bags for garbage
- A toilet roll
- Phone and charged power brick
- Sunscreen, lipbalm, hand sanitiser and hand cream
- Painkillers, plasters and blister plasters
- Trainers (in case my boots were too painful at any point and I needed to swap)
- Plastic ponchos
- 2 person survival bag
- Cash for the shuttle bus
We carried loads of stuff up there that we never ended up needing but you really never know and it is way better to be safe than sorry. Once you get on the trail and see how steep some of it is and how small the markers are you realise there’s no way you’re doing it in the dark or in really bad weather so you should make sure you’re probably dressed, have spare clothes and socks, plenty of food and water and a head torch.
For more information about different seasons and tips on preparing for hiking in Norway see the Norwegian Trekking Association.
How long does the hike to Trolltunga take?
This obviously depends on lots of things – where you start the hike, the weather conditions and your levels of fitness. The trail is fairly demanding in places and gets quite steep and there isn’t really a section that’s flat and also easy walking; there are lots of loose rocks everywhere as well as mud and water.
We took the option of cutting out the first 3km by starting at parking lot number 3 (‘P3’) at Mågelitopp. We got a 5:30am shuttle up meaning we arrived just before 6am to begin our hike.
We arrived at the top at around 10am after just over 4 hours of hiking to cover the 10km from P3. We spent around 45 minutes at the top to take photos and have some food before heading back. We only had to queue 5 minutes or so to walk out onto the troll’s tongue itself because we had arrived early and also because I suspect September is a quieter time to hike.
On the way back we saw way more people on the trail so I can imagine it would have gotten pretty busy at the top by midday. If you read around a bit you’ll find many people reporting hour long waits for a photograph (which I totally wouldn’t have bothered with) but you can reduce this drastically by starting early.
We thought we would be much quicker coming down but the route is up and down in both directions so there were still some steep uphill portions on the way back and we stopped a few more times to take off clothes (once it stopped raining) and to eat and rest.
In the end we made it back to P3 at around 3pm, just in time for a bizarre gap in shuttle bus service (the last was at 13:45 and the next at 16:15…which must cover the period most people arrive back there!) so it took us about 4 hours back as well. We ended up walking the last 3km down the road because we couldn’t stand waiting an hour for the bus knowing how cold we’d get and how stiff that would make us the next day. This added nearly another hour to the trip given the state we were in…the shuttle bus arrived at P2 about 5 minutes after we got down (we tried to laugh about it).
All together it was a 10 hour round trip to cover the 23km we walked (10km there and 13km back).
What information should I check before my hike?
There’s quite a bit of information out there if you know where to look and it’s definitely worth checking a lot of it out, especially to get updates on the weather which can be the difference between a successful hike and being rescued. Check several weather forecasts before you go, but know that weather can change quickly and may be very different at the top than at the bottom (so plan accordingly.
The Trolltunga Trail Information page on Facebook has regular updates about current and expected conditions – they posted warnings about the rain a few days after our hike.
How do you get to Trolltunga?
The nearest town is Odda which is about a 6 hour drive from Oslo and about 3 hours from Bergen. Apparently it’s possible to get there by public transport but we rented a car for our whole trip which was very cost effective (about £250 for 6 days) and driving in Norway was extremely safe and easy.
If you stay in Odda you can get the bus to Skjeggedal where the route starts from parking lot 2 (P2). A couple of bus companies run this shuttle, including Odda Taxi, which now offers shuttles from Odda Camping at 5am to get you to P2 by 5:30am to start the hike (timetable here). It’s 150 NOK one way or 250 NOK roundtrip from Odda. It stops a few places on the way so if you’re staying between Odda and Skjeggedal you can likely pick the shuttle up on its way.
The shuttle to P3 doesn’t start until later in the morning at 6:45am (100 NOK – timetable and info here), it’s not bookable in advance and there are only 10 seats, so you either need a private shuttle up there or you can walk the c.3km up. It is incredibly steep but at least it’s tarmacked – it will add around an hour to your hike and isn’t a very interesting walk.
The other option is to drive to either P2 or P3. The road to P3 doesn’t open until 6am and there are only 30 spaces there, which you can pre-book in advance for 600 NOK for the day. They ask that you ‘honestly evaluate your driving skills’ (!) before embarking on the drive due to the 17 hairpin bends and 17% grade. I didn’t drive up it but I did walk down it and if you can drive around Norway you can get up this road, just be aware that unsuitable vehicles will be denied access to check the website for details and to book your ticket.
We took the option of cutting out the first 3km by starting at parking lot number 3 (P3) at Mågelitopp. We did this by paying 250 NOK each for an ATV to take us from Trolltunga Guesthouse. I think this is by far the best option if you want to be there early and want certainty over your route.
What facilities are there?
None! The last place you can get food, drinks or use a toilet is at P2 – after that you’re on your own. The only other facilities are two emergency cabins spread along the route but these are strictly for emergencies, not for chilling (or using as toilets…)
You will probably need the toilet along the route if you’re out for 10 – 12 hours – there are plenty of rocks to go behind but it pays to go earlier on because the route gets busier and busier along the way! Make sure you take a ziplock bag to take away any litter – DO NOT leave it on the route. And I think it goes without saying that you shouldn’t go right next to the route or near any water sources.
Is hiking Trolltunga safe?
Yes if you plan carefully, stay on the route (follow the red ‘T’ markers, not other people) and dress and pack sensibly. People get into trouble by not being prepared for the weather or changes to weather and not taking enough food and water. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail!